Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Incident of 2010

It's winter time ~ although, here in Michigan, it hasn't felt much like it. But there is proof! Proof in the form of those little notes that come home from school telling us what's going around. They say something like, "Attention Parents ~ Your adorable little cherub may have been exposed to: (Insert Illness / Affliction Here)".

I don't know about anyone else, but every time I catch a glimpse of one of those notes in one of the tiny people's backpacks I close my eyes and whisper, "Please don't say lice, please don't say lice, please don't say lice..."

Now, if you've never had the unfortunate experience of dealing with lice yourself, stop right now, bow your head, and say a little prayer of thanks....because as someone who {has} been to that place, I can tell you ~ Dealing with lice is like entering the 5th circle of H.E.L.L. It was easily the most horrible experience of my adult life. No lie. So awful, it was, that it has taken me well over a year to blog about it. I just wasn't ready yet.

Now, you might be wondering why I'm bringing it up at all ~ and I'm telling you that there are 2 simple reasons. 1: no one should feel like they're the only one who's had to deal with it. It's not your fault ~ it's not your kid's fault ~ and it doesn't mean that anyone is dirty. And 2: you need to know that you'll survive it. I promise.

It's daunting ~ I'm not gonna lie. But, I'm going to offer some tips, and let you know what {I} think every parent of a school-aged child should have on hand...just in case.

First ~ make sure you're checking your child/ren on a regular basis. Maybe every 2nd or 3rd day if you haven't gotten a notice from the school. If/when a notice does come home from school, it's time to start checking daily. Religiously. Every. Day. I know you're thinking, "But I don't know what I'm looking for!" Trust me, you will know a nit if/when you see one.

Pick up some Lice Shield repellant shampoo and/or hair spray from the drug store, and when there is an outbreak, spray your kids down every day before sending them off to school.

Try (try, try, try) to keep your family members' combs seperated. No sharing. I know it's easier said than done, but it's worth a shot. It's easier to prevent the little buggers from spreading than it is to get rid of them once they have.

Keep a kit at home so that you're ready. Your kit should include: Medicated Shampoo (like RID), a metal-toothed lice comb, a rat tail comb, disposable plastic hair ties, a spray bottle, rubbing alcohol, a roll of blue painter's tape, extra vacuum cleaner bags, extra trash bags, duct tape, lice killing spray.

Now the explanation. There are plenty of people who will tell you to use olive oil or mayo instead of the chemical shampoo. I am {not} one of those people. This is war, people ~ it's not a time to get mamby-pamby. The shampoo will come with a plastic lice comb. These plastic combs are {crap}. Spring for the metal one ~ it's sooo much better.

The long tail on a rat tail comb will make it easier to part and section the hair, and you can use the hair ties to make several ponytails so that you can keep track of what you've already checked. I seperated my girls' hair into 6 or 8 smaller sections, then used the tail of the comb to go through each section bit by bit. The spray bottle is helpful b/c it's easier to check damp hair. You can dampen it by section and not have to spray the same area over and over again.

Rubbing alcohol will kill anything that sticks to the combs, so you can soak them between checks (which you'll do twice a day....for 2 weeks). I also took the extra step of wiping down my laundry hampers with rubbing alcohol before putting any clean laundry in them.

Blue painter's tape might seem strange, but we put anything we found during our checks on the sticky side of the tape so that we could see it (and make sure we were finding less and less) it was contained and easy to throw away.

Vacuum cleaner bags are important b/c you're going to vacuum all of your furniture, mattresses, rugs, etc. every day...for 2 weeks. You need to get the used bag (or a plastic bag containing the contents of the bin if you have a bagless vacuum) out of the house and into your outside garbage can when you're done vacuuming. Every day. I also used rubbing alcohol to clean the bin of our bagless vacuum every day. Better safe than sorry.

Garbage bags and duct tape are meant for anything soft that you can't wash ~ like special pillows, dolls, hats, or stuffed animals. You're going to put everything into a garbage bag, seal it closed with duct tape and put it outside for at least 2 weeks. If you have a large freezer, you can put items in it, too. You can vacuum everything before putting it back into regular circulation.

The lice spray can be used on mattresses and furniture, but I didn't do that. I only used the spray on our carseats. All of them. Like, the entire interior of the car.

You're also going to go through a {ridiculous} amount of laundry detergent. You're going to wash coats, hats, gloves, and any clothes that have been worn by the affected person in HOT water. You can also kill stuff by drying it on high heat for at least 20 min. I did both. To everything.

Put those who are affected to bed at night with nothing but a fitted sheet and a blanket. You're going to wash those items every day...for 2 weeks. Choose wisely ~ we lost a blanket (our only casualty) because it couldn't handle all the laundering. And if you have bunk beds, you might want to consider making the top bunk kid sleep on the floor. Trust me....vacuuming that top bunk mattress every day is a beeeeeeee-otch.

You're going to check noggins twice a day...every day...for 2 weeks.

You're going to vacuum the mattresses...the couch and chairs...the rugs...every day...for 2 weeks.

You're going to launder bedding...every day...for 2 weeks.

You're also likely going to {cry} every day...for 2 weeks. ;)

But you {will} get through it. And hopefully you won't have to go through it ever again.



  1. Very good tips! I used to keep HOT water in a plastic container next to me while I checked. When I found a live one I would keep it between my fingers (quick little buggers!) and run hot water onto it under the tap and watch that bugger go down. The nits I would put in the hot water container. HOT water kills them, so there was no need for the rubbing alcohol. I also put up a plastic sheet over our couch once it was vacuumed that first time and they both sat on the plastic for the two weeks. That way I didn't need to vacuum the couch everyday, thank goodness! There was already enough to vacuum! Actually, I think she wasn't even allowed in the tv room that first week, just to be safe! How did you use the metal comb? I never got the comb to work for me, since the nit were so close to her scalp, there was really no way to get it close enough (she has a LOT of hair too).

  2. We went over each section with the comb after we had already checked, just to try to get anything we might've missed. You have to go in at an angle, then pull up parallel to the scalp. It's not easy, but you get the hang of it after you've done it a few times.



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